WSU’s first class of medical students will graduate this spring

“Thousands of Firsts” campaign celebrates students’, faculties’ early memories of program

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COURTESY OF ELSON S. FLOYD COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

“We’ve been conceiving this idea for nearly four years now, to capture all of these firsts, all of these amazing moments that have occurred since the start of the medical school,” said Christina VerHeul, director of communications, marketing and strategic operations at WSU’s College of Medicine.

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen reporter

WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine will graduate its first class of medical students at the end of the spring 2021 semester. 

In 2017, the college’s dean welcomed the first class of students, said Christina VerHeul, director of communications, marketing and strategic operations at WSU’s College of Medicine. The dean shared a quote during the event: “The beauty of the first time is that it leads to 1,000 firsts.”

VerHeul said this inspired a campaign to capture all the thousands of firsts that will happen for the students and the school. The college has been collecting students’ and faculties’ first memories since then.

It is the largest and most expensive ad campaign the college has done. This milestone is a significant moment for the college and it needs to be celebrated, she said. 

“We’ve been conceiving this idea for nearly four years now, to capture all of these firsts, all of these amazing moments that have occurred since the start of the medical school,” VerHeul said.

This is not just about the medical school, she said. They want to share the success of the students with every Washingtonian. Everyone from the taxpayers and patients to health care professionals were involved in making this medical school a reality. 

“We really wanted to bring the state together, especially in this really difficult time, particularly in the health care community,” VerHeul said. “There’s a little bit of light out there this year that we feel is such an exciting thing.” 

Senior medical student Christie Kirkpatrick’s story is incorporated into the campaign. Her story is just one of the many firsts from the students, VerHeul said. 

“Christie had this incredible first where she delivered her first baby alongside the doctor who delivered her,” she said. 

Kirkpatrick said she realized in college that medical school was a good fit for her. It felt like a natural starting point because she had grown up in a family of medical doctors. 

“Working as my father’s medical scribe made me realize I wanted to pursue medicine,” she said. 

Kirkpatrick’s favorite memories include seeing her father care for patients and clue into what they really need. She said she would like to practice primary care and specialize in internal medicine. 

“Part of the reason I am choosing my specialty is because we get to do everything,” she said. “If I had to pick my favorite, I like preventative medicine and lifestyle changes, so thinking about metabolic disease.”

Kirkpatrick said the COVID-19 pandemic is emotionally challenging for her, but she thinks it will make her a better doctor in the long run.

She acquired a greater appreciation for life and became more resilient. Kirkpatrick said this pandemic really showed her where the problems are within the medical system. 

She said she hopes to be a pillar for her patients and to be compassionate and comforting. She is encouraging everyone to not lose hope, to keep their heads up and to know they are loved. 

The campaign for the medical school can be viewed on the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine website and YouTube channel.